Thirty minutes later found them stepping out of a cab in front of the Haldstad. Jo’s eyes were glued to her phone display; Mike swept his gaze over the building from side to side, top to bottom, eyes glowing a cool blue as data about the site was projected directly to him.
“What on earth could we possibly want with this place? I can’t see anything in its history that fits with any of the other holdings we’ve gone after.” Jo had spent the ride over digging into the Haldstad’s past. Built nearly two centuries before, it had started life as the burgeoning town’s police headquarters. The fire that Dunn had mentioned had raged through the first floor and up to the upper floor, though the cause of the blaze was poorly understood; it was believed to have been arson of some sort. After being repaired, it had continued to house the town inspectors for several decades before it was decommissioned and ultimately sold to a succession of owners who mostly used it for retail spaces.
It bore little resemblance today to how it had looked when first built. Originally designed as a two-storey building, it now rose five storeys high and had been renovated and restored many times. She continued, “This place has been torn down and rebuilt so many times there can’t be anything of value left, can there?”
“You never know. Sometimes it’s not the building itself, but the location. They’ve got their reasons, and it doesn’t really matter to us what they are.” Mike spoke with the absent tone of someone engaged in his own research. “You’re probably right though. With the history this place has, I doubt we’ll find much.”
There was no current tenant, and the arrangements had all been made with the property owner. Mike had the key and let them in the rather unimposing entrance.
Jo half expected the interior to be fire-blackened and burned, despite knowing better; instead, she was greeted by the sight of what looked to be a drugstore that had been shut down for a few years and seen better days. Rows of mostly empty shelves sat in the gloomy interior, cobwebs festooned every corner, and little pellets suggested a variety of rodents had taken up residence.
“What a lovely place,” she murmured. Mike smiled and headed straight for the lights. They didn’t work.
“Hope you’ve got a flashlight handy,” he said. She held up her phone, brightness cranked up to max; the device was as bright as any dedicated flashlight. Mike snorted, but nodded in approval. “Nice,” he said. “Those things do have some surprising uses, don’t they.”
“Yeah, it comes in handy sometimes. I’ll have to follow you though, I won’t be able to use it for much else while it’s lighting my way.”
He nodded and they headed down the aisles toward the basement entrance.